No one is ever really prepared for a divorce. Even if you have been through it before, no times are ever alike. For someone who is already going through the emotional upheaval that comes with this trying time in one’s life, it helps if you know what to expect on the legal front. Being aware of the steps involved in a divorce litigation are vital for emerging with your sanity intact.
Attempt to arrive at an agreement: If you are now facing the challenge of going through a divorce litigation, this means that other means to come to an amicable solution with your estranged partner have failed. However be sure that you have done all you can to come up with a reasonable or at the very least a realistic solution that the other party will likely agree too.
File a Petition for divorce: The first step is to file an Original Petition for Divorce identifying you and your spouse and naming any children who will be impacted by the divorce. The partner initiating the divorce is called the petitioner and the other the respondent. After the respondent is served the papers, they will need to respond within 30 days.
Get temporary orders: During this time you must find a good divorce attorney to represent you. If either party wants to get protective orders or restraining orders this is when it is to be done. Some couples may request a temporary order to permit or prevent access to funds or property as well as determine temporary possession of minor children, and provide for child support and spousal support.
- This phase begins with disclosures – documentary requests sent by attorneys representing both parties, requesting specific items/response, to be closed out within 30 days.
- A ‘Request for Production’ will also be made, where documents are obtained by attorneys for their clients using this legal mechanism. This includes but is not limited to statements of income and bank statements among other things. Be prepared to encounter major delays at this phase as your spouse and his/her attorney do not produce the documents needed. Be patient and wait it out, this delay tactic is normal.
- You will also be called upon by the attorney of your spouse, to make a deposition and your lawyer will take a sworn testimony from your spouse as well. It is important to understand that anything said during this deposition is permissible for use in court, so choose your words carefully.
This process is used to help both parties arrive at an agreeable solution out of court. Failure to arrive at an agreement will result in the course going to court. It is important to engage the services of an experienced divorce mediation attorney to give yourself a shot at getting the best possible deal in this otherwise difficult time.
If you are among the relatively small number of people whose divorce goes to trial, work closely with your divorce attorney to understand how to conduct yourself in court. Prepare a strong case and handle yourself well to improve your chances of a favourable outcome. You will be called on to testify under oath, and after examining all the evidence, the judge will arrive at a decision and make both you and your spouse sign off on a decree of divorce. Details relating to division of property, custody of the kids, any child or spousal support that is to be paid, as well as other contested areas, will be stipulated.
Gerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law lawyer and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.